Ludeke: Sharks will run at us
Frans Ludeke (Gallo Images)
Pretoria - They're not expecting a swarm of bees or a thunderstorm, but definitely a Sharks team that won't just give away possession ... and one that won't be eager to give the Bulls the chance to use their strengths, like their lineout, against the Durban-based side.
And yes, it's going to be another very tough derby.
That is the view of Bulls coach Frans Ludeke about the big hurdle his team will have to overcome if the champions want to keep their hopes of defending the Super Rugby title alive.
It will be the first time that the teams meet since the Sharks beat the Blue Bulls in last year's Currie Cup semi-final. Kick-off in that match was delayed by a swarm of bees and it was later disrupted by a heavy thunderstorm.
"We expect that, like then, they will try to carry the ball and keep it alive. I also don't expect them to kick the ball into touch a lot because our lineout is a strength," Ludeke said on Monday after his team's training session.
"We now have good momentum after the (matches against) the Chiefs and Rebels and that gives us confidence for the rest of the tournament, but the Sharks are also under pressure to win. I don't expect them to stand back and neither will we. So there is a big clash coming," said Ludeke.
"Matches between us and the Sharks have been on a knife's edge for the past three or four years. It was one or perhaps two moments in the game that had a decisive impact. There will therefore not be much margin for error."
Ludeke believes that the seeds sowed in the victory over the Rebels could bear fruit in Durban.
"We defended brilliantly and plugged all the holes. It was a great defensive performance and the Sharks will have to be stopped in the same manner. We'll have to tackle them back and stop their ball-carriers," said Ludeke.
The coach is not someone who easily changes his team. It is Chiliboy Ralepelle's turn to start at hooker again according to the rotation agreement with Gary Botha, but he's struggling with a back injury.
"It's my lower back. I'm in discomfort, but I hope to recover in time," said Ralepelle.
He did not take part in Monday's lineout session and it was noticeable that Derick Kuün was practising lineout throws. Kuün has stood in as replacement hooker earlier this year and while it was not necessary for him to slot into the No 2 position then, he may well fulfill that role against the Sharks.
Ludeke has some other decisions to make. Regular outside centre Jaco Pretorius trained without problems and could be considered, especially as Stephan Dippenaar, who played the last four games, is struggling with an ankle injury.
"I hope to run again by Wednesday," said the 23-year-old centre.
"It's a big one coming up, so I'd like to play."